A Revolution: 9 Reasons Why Jae Jarrell Is A Badass
- Jae Jarrell is a badass black woman artist and activist best known for her textile and fashion work from the 60s and 70s.
- She was a founding member of AFRICOBRA which stands for the African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists.
- She was a small business owner and started her own shop called “Jae of Hyde Park” where she sold her fashion designs. She is a perfect example of how to blend business, art, and activism.
- Jae was reinventing her work! In Urban Wall Suit, she was inspired by the walls in her Chicago community where people would tag questions and have conversations via graffiti. She decided to interpret that and see if she could create a similar vibe with her fabric. She describes it as “It was a voice of the community and a voice to the community.”
- The importance of people to Jae is clearly visible in her desire to interpret communal Chicago graffiti, open a small business, and start an art movement like AFRICOBRA. Plus she’s got creative lineage with her grandfather being a tailor, and her mother teaching her how to sew and the importance of really well made garments.
- Her “political stance on nurturing the strong loving Black family is real, and personally experienced. We regarded the members as extended family.” AFRICOBRA wasn’t just a collective or a movement, it was a kind of family, and Jae described how the members would gather at her and her husband Wadsworth Jarrell’s home and studio to have informal critiques and discussions about their work. Talk about community practice goals!
- Jae and AFRICOBRA were all about having a philosophy of positive imagery. They decided what they wanted to make work about, what they wanted to show to the community, how they wanted to make their impact as artists and a movement.
- What a style icon. Jae described this quite simply as what she wanted to wear to the revolution. Conceptual. Playful. Political. Fashionable. Badass.
- I hope you leave this page thinking about the complexities of the revolution we are in the middle of right now, the history of activism and art from previous revolutions, and like Jae, figuring out how to dream up and make real changes, whether that’s how the revolution works its way into your family, your community or into your fashion.
The information in this article comes from the following sources: D. Denenge Akpem’s course at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago called “The Black Arts Movement”, Interviews and catalogues by the Brooklyn Museum, the Cleveland Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, as well as articles by websites including neverthesame.org, and threadfashionandcostume.blogspot.com